Speech Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
It is my pleasure to participate in the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation.
As a region, the countries of Asia and the Pacific are still going through challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic-induced socio-economic crisis has undermined hard-won development gains of the past decades and significantly reversed the progress towards reaching the SDGs.
We are now experiencing the risk of a multi-speed recovery across the region, because of the different levels of containment and management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this process, I would like to highlight two policy issues for your consideration.
First, we must focus on strengthening public health care systems.
Governments must take urgent actions to enhance policy coordination and coherence in ensuring equitable procurement and distribution of vaccines; promote partnerships for vaccine production; enable affordable therapeutics and medicines; and expand investment in strengthening the resilience of health care systems.
Second, we must build resilience to the risks of climate as part of the recovery strategy.
The pandemic has increased the burden on communities and vulnerable groups in developing and small island developing States as they continue to face existing long-term impacts of climate change.
It is time to shift focus on green-blue recovery in the region.
Our focus on green recovery should be directed towards decarbonizing our economies by 2050, end fossil fuel subsidies, tackling air pollution, stepping up ambition in our Nationally Determined Contributions and accelerating the energy transition.
Similarly, we must redouble efforts on a blue recovery to protect our ocean-based economies and improve their socio-economic wellbeing.
Governments policies must be encouraged to step up efforts to manage marine resources sustainably; reduce single-use plastics waste; scale up efforts to rely on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry; and provide comprehensive decision-making supported by integrated oceans data solutions.
By prioritizing this green-blue approach to recovery, governments can further mainstream finance and digitalization across their strategic policy formulations towards the achievement of the SDGs.
I urge member States and all stakeholders to work collaboratively to demonstrate solidarity in overcoming this crisis.
ESCAP stands ready to harness its inclusive platform to advance regional cooperation and multilateralism.